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The House of the Spirits | Study Guide

Isabel Allende

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The House of the Spirits | Character Analysis


Esteban Trueba

When it comes to personal growth and change, Esteban Trueba is extremely slow. The violent temper, prideful arrogance, and stubbornness that characterize him as a young man stay with him until very late in his 90-year life. He is truly only horribly sorry for one action in his life—the violent moment in which he knocks Clara's teeth out and essentially loses her love (and her desire to ever speak to him again) forever. Even after that, he continues in his ways. It takes the loss of nearly everyone in his family and the sudden revelation that much of their suffering is due to him and his actions to finally cause him to change. He then becomes a man who can forgive his enemies, say he is sorry, allow people to make their own choices, and even help those he once despised escape to safety.


Unlike her husband, Clara can see when she needs to change, and then she does it. When people need her help and the needs of the real world are obviously more important than her own need to be deeply entrenched in spiritual matters, she snaps into action. She works hard for the people of Tres Marías and to rebuild it after the earthquake. She does much in the way of charitable deeds in the city. She is always there for her children when they need her most, and she is an especially important presence in the life of her granddaughter, Alba. Clara is also a principled woman. There are certain things she simply will not abide, including her husband's physical violence to her and her children. When Clara dies, it is by choice. She has lived a fulfilling life and sees no problem in moving permanently into the spiritual realm that has always sustained her—and from which she knows she can still keep an eye on her loved ones.


Blanca appears to be the most practical of the del Valle and Trueba women. She knows how to piece together a living, run a household, get out of a dysfunctional situation with Count Jean de Satigny, raise a fine daughter, and help those in greater need than herself. She has a passionate love affair with just one man her whole life, but is practical enough to believe if she formalized it with marriage it would become too routine and therefore lose much of its allure. In the end she is rewarded for hanging in there with a difficult life in every way when she and Pedro Tercero safely leave the country and settle in Canada where they enjoy a very happy life together.


Alba truly represents the new generation of Trueba women. She grows up to combine all of their wonderful qualities. She is incredibly strong, like Blanca, while also having the spiritual nature of Clara. She is able to love more unconditionally than either of them, lavishing her love on her uncles, grandfather, and Miguel without judgment or game playing. She realizes that the power to stop cruelty and violence and to live harmoniously with concern for the good of all is within her grasp, and she intends to instill all the best of her family in her unborn daughter as she looks to a better future.

Pedro Tercero

Pedro Tercero is a complex character who takes resentment toward the establishment that has kept his family down and turns it into a cause that he only wants to promote peacefully. Unlike Esteban García who feeds his evil and hatred with resentment, Pedro Tercero desires to bring about change without violence. Despite the fact that Esteban Trueba has cut off three of his fingers for the supposed crime of loving Blanca, Pedro Tercero does not seek personal revenge. When Blanca asks, he even gets Esteban Trueba out of a jam—a favor that Trueba will repay. Pedro Tercero never stops loving Blanca, and they finally end up together in a place where they can live happily.

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